“The Thief” (Story Dice Sundays)

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He didn’t see the first time the cane struck across his head, but he sure felt it. He turned just in time to see a shadow, an empty void cut out of the moon light, raise its hand again.

“Thief!” the voice grated. The cane came down hard, but Vance caught it. A dull thwack, a stinging sensation in his palm. He pushed against the shadow—

An old man, he thought. Just a few hits, and he could go back to picking the lock.

Something cold slid into his ribs. He was holding half the cane in his hand. The other half—a glint of metal shining in the moonlight—was buried deep inside him.

Something thick and heavy collided with his chest and he fell backward down the library staircase.

He looked up. The shadow had followed him down. Clutching his side, Vance turned and ran and clipped the corner of a bookshelf and his insides screamed as his hand grew warmer with blood.


Commentary

This prompt was from a writing workshop I did with my friends where we had to describe an action scene.

The thing about action scenes is that they have to be fast-paced. You can’t really stop and describe the scenery in great detail. To focus on the action, I described the scene as it took place, allowing the reader to build an image of the setting in their mind.

I also used omission to describe a knife without directly saying it’s a knife–I just said it was “a glint of metal shining in the moonlight”, and added other descriptions so the reader could piece together that it was a dagger hidden inside the cane.

Finally, to increase the pace and tension of the scene, I used one long sentence at the end and repeatedly used “and” to break up the dependent clauses to make it seem fast and panicked. Compare:

“Clutching his side, Vance turned and ran. He clipped the corner of a bookshelf. His insides screamed. His hand grew warmer with blood.”

and the final version:

“Clutching his side, Vance turned and ran and clipped the corner of a bookshelf and his insides screamed as his hand grew warmer with blood.”

As you can see, the second sentence is much faster. Use this technique to give speed and urgency to your sentences.

 

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